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The Sharks will attempt to give themselves the upper hand in the push for the Super Rugby finals when they take on a high-flying Hurricanes outfit, who can all but lock up the top wildcard spot and a home playoff. Join The Roar for live scores from 11:05pm (AEST).
In any other conference, the Hurricanes would be the side to catch, but playing in New Zealand, they are well below the Crusaders, who will lock up top spot in the New Zealand conference.
Regardless, their 40 competition points currently has them six ahead of the next best non-top team, meaning a win here would virtually lock up fourth place on the overall table and a home final in the first week.
However, it’s a less than straightforward finish to the season for the ‘Canes, with this South African tour also seeing them take on the Lions, before they fly back to New Zealand and play the Lions in the final week of action.
They have had a bye to freshen up after the trip to South Africa, however, their last start was a loss to Jaguares, which broke a five-game winning streak that had kicked them clear of the pack in the New Zealand conference.
If they can get back to their best in their first game overseas, they will be incredibly hard to stop.
The Sharks, on the other hand, are ahead of the bottom teams in the South African conference, but given the Lions and Stormers face off later today, a loss here would put them in danger of slipping outside the overall top eight.
A win, on the other hand, leaves them in with a shot at finishing top of the tree in the volatile South African conference, which would win them the all-important home final.
Following a win against the Waratahs, a draw with the Crusaders and a loss against the Chiefs in what was a reasonably successful overseas trip, they were more or less back at their best last weekend with a win over the surprisingly poor Lions.
Momentum-wise, they should have plenty going for them at home, but they have thrown away some games this year and the pressure will be on from the word go.
The Hurricanes have been strong, and while the first week of an overseas trip is always tough, I expect them to pick up the home final-seeling win here.
Hurricanes by 10.
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